Ralph's Photos and Trip Report for his May
trip to Key Largo, Staying at the Jules Undersea Lodge and diving a Mark V!!!!!!
given us a fantastic trip report from his latest excursion to Key Largo. Not
only did he have a stay at the Jules' Undersea Lodge, but also hit the Diving
Museum, and even got a chance to dive an Mark-V!!!!! We find Ralph's
reports a real treat and are planning on an MK-5 experience for the group... See
below, the report, gallery, and even a few movies!
"I had an
opportunity before a business conference started to participate in a saturation
diving experience at Key Largo, Florida on Saturday May 15, 2010. Specifically,
I spent a night in an underwater habitat. This habitat was formerly known as
the La Chalupa Research Laboratory. It was used to
explore the continental shelf off of the coast of Puerto Rico. Originally built
in 1972, it eventually became the Jules Undersea Lodge in the early 1980ís. The
laboratory still exists. Further information can be found at
A Map of the undersea lodge layout can be seen here:
Dive 104 Jules Undersea Lodge, Key Largo Florida May 15, 2010. This was
Habitat Mission # 4069. Depth 20.5 feet (i.e. due to the modest depth, chamber
decompression is not required before returning to the surface.), Calm water in
the Emerald Lagoon. You wear scuba gear to gain access to the underwater
habitat. This habitat had 2 bedrooms. Observations: compressed air inside
habitat keeps water from rising in the moon pool. The toilet works similar to a
dive boat, slept better in the habitat versus home, and you hear air constantly
being piped in from the surface.
Before occupying the habitat you get a topside briefing concerning life support
systems in addition to familiarization of the habitat with all the amenities
offered. Your Mission Director acts as a butler, housekeeper, chef, underwater
habitat historian and briefer, and excursion guide. I was the only person
occupying the habitat on this day. I had an excellent dinner, watched DVDís,
read portions of a book, and constantly looked out the 4 inch thick windows in
If someone actually becomes involved in marine science in their future they may
have opportunities through universities and other research institutions and or
military to have access to underwater labs at other locations in the world not
open to recreational divers. Another option would be the luxurious places
worldwide as a tourist. Nevertheless the experience at Jules Undersea Lodge was
neat and will be remembered for what I chose to undertake this time! It gave me
an appreciation for those whose jobs typically involve using facilities like
this to carry-on their research, exploration activities, or military
applications. Here is some more information on underwater habitats:
this unique opportunity may appear expensive for a short overnight stay but look
at the costs for similar opportunities (eat and or sleep underwater) elsewhere
in the world:
I took while inside the underwater Hotel at Jules Undersea Lodge
Jules Undersea Lodge, I had another unique opportunity while at Key Largo
Florida. I participated in diving in a MARK V Diving Suit!
Historical Information on a MARK V:
obviously my first experience in diving with this gear since it appears this
experience isnít readily available worldwide to recreational divers. The
location to participate in this activity at Key Largo can be found here:
Dive 105. Holiday Inn Canal Key Largo Florida May 16, 2010. Salt water, calm,
150 lbs equipment on the surface, 30-40 lbs underwater, climb down 18 foot
ladder and walk on platform underwater; 30 minutes underwater.
Observations: Limited visibility using the Mark V Helmet versus a scuba mask,
the suit felt like you were being squeezed underwater, provided me an
opportunity to experience what it was like prior to modern day scuba gear being
this actual diving experience, I also had the opportunity to see the Diving
Museum at Islamorada. A lot of information exists at this museum and it is
worth going to whether or not you decide to participate in an actual MARK V
diving experience at Key Largo. Consult:
Despite the differences between hard hat diving of the past and modern scuba
diving, it was definitely an experience to obtain to appreciate even more the
advances in underwater diving that have taken place over time.
Pictures below are my MARK V Experience plus pictures I took at
the Diving Museum."
Diving Museum Gallery
Jules' Undersea Lodge Gallery
The below videos require "Quicktime"
player. Get it here.